December 07, 2003


Which is the true Mark Latham? The small-government low-spender in the Herald Sun?

He said Labor could beat the Howard Government by embracing tax cuts, better education and health systems, but not by returning to taxing and spending, or big social programs.

Or the big-government mega-spender in The Age?

He said a Labor government would be "so much bigger than the Howard Government" and he promised big investment in education, children's health, early childhood learning and child protection, public housing for the poor and care for the aged and disabled.

It’s almost as though Latham is taking us on some kind of crazy rollercoaster ride.

Posted by Tim Blair at December 7, 2003 11:46 AM

Yeah, but how much is he gonna spend on lunch?

Posted by: James at December 7, 2003 at 12:01 PM

Mark Latham's and the ALP's brilliant strategy will be completely successful right up until the moment that Herald Sun readers start talking to Age readers ... and until there is some real scrutiny as to what Latham REALLY believes in.

The horrible truth for the ALP will be that he actually stands for nothing other than what the latest poll or focus group tells him and whatever is the noisiest selfish interest group that day.

You see the ALP has for some time been a "rainbow coalition" of leftists: hard-bitten unionists and Balmain (f)arts types - treehuggers and logging workers - professional unionists and Emily's list femmos - pro-illegal immigrants and zero population growth envionmentalists etc etc.

Trying to simultaneously appease all these groups caused the Hawke/Keating Governments to explode (the previous Whitlam government was SO incompetent, it did not have the chance to do this). And this was when they had the money in Government - how hard will it be in opposition (with no money) Latham and the ALP are only just beginning to find out.

So expect to see an endless array of contradictory statments as Latham tries to simultaneously appease the wide range of rent-seekers who make up today's ALP.

But do not expect him to be successful. There is already a rich mother-lode of contradictory empty rhetoric in Latham's closet.

All the GOvernment needs to do is point this out the "normal" middle-class and aspirational working class voters and a fourth (and fifth) term is guaranteed.


Posted by: The_GOP_Elephant at December 7, 2003 at 12:04 PM

Exactly. Latham is, like all politicians, all things to all people. See this definitive, if long-winded, comment by me here

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at December 7, 2003 at 04:18 PM

Latham's at it already! He says he wants to do more things for gays, put the enviroment higher up the agenda, yadda, bloody yadda. This is the BS that got the ALP where they are today, don't the left ever learn. Mark the terror of Sydney taxi drivers is in for a stormy ride with his new left wing mates, pucker up for Carmen Mark!

Posted by: Mike Rogers at December 7, 2003 at 04:43 PM

Lacker's going to be so easy to campaign against. Just wheel out the contradictions.

Posted by: slattery at December 7, 2003 at 05:07 PM

Look for a Liberal re-run of the November 2001 election campaign in 2004. No, not as Labor mythology has it, a border protection election. The real scare campaign of 2001 - vote for a Labor government again and interest rates will return to 17%. Driving for a living and listening to Sydney radio at the time, I heard the same callers ringing up and repeating the same '17%' script to every talkback host who would take their call. Latham will have a very tough job convincing his 'aspirational working class' voters in the suburbs he can cut or stop housing loan interest rates from rising. If he can sell this, buying off Left votes by taking on a 'left-wing rights agenda’ won't matter much.

Posted by: Softly at December 7, 2003 at 06:27 PM

These 2 statements are not contradictory, in the first he says "Labour could win by.....", in the second he says "A Labour govt will be....". Sounds to me like he knows what they need to do to win but will not be doing those things.

He's done this in the past, in the Age a couple of months ago was this gem:

Mr Latham's plans include blasting the ghettos with multi-level government money and programs, and making the residents try to take control of their own destinies.
Then a couple of weeks later he was on about lower taxes and smaller government.

This bloke is a target-rich environment for the Liberals.

Posted by: Wayne Kerr at December 7, 2003 at 08:26 PM